Der Magier

[W]ith the large black eyes and handsome face of a pretty fiend—


A voice like black chalk waking the bored,
the language of the birds is the conversation
of the soul, sound the shofar, gather the
herd, cast aside your aspersions as you throw
in the verbs, soften the blow with vowels


to absorb the shock of apocryphal scripture your
eyes do not deserve, denying nature its course
as you pervert her chorus to conform to
your misunderstanding of his unseen force’s work, its
power to turn dirt into men and men


into beasts before returning them to the ground
again, every blade of grass has a guardian
whose actions speak on heaven’s behalf, encouraging it
to grow without making a sound, listen to
the earth as it takes back in silence


what you never should have had, take heed
(are you ready to listen now?): your days
are numbered like the letters in god’s name,
a word of power you cannot even say,
the one thing on which anyone can count,


its consonants ignorant of your inability to make
sense of the secrets they contain, or even
pronounce them the way he ordained, creation is
a many-splintered thing, thorns performing without end the
same miracle since the world’s beginning, stinging into


fugitive skin a law whose ink cannot be
unwritten, a supreme being witnessing with scars what
portion of existence is only temporarily ours, a
principle it would profit us to give more
interest than we invest in our Selves, only


exiles forget where the garden is located, to
everyone else who has woken up this is
common knowledge, to warn us of our peril
all my angels must now have the faces
of centaurs, forlorn, despairing of their own indifference


to desires they cannot tame or control, pleasures
they cannot sustain, conquests whose treasures they can
never have or hold, ardent archers frowning at
their spent arrows lust enflames, fired forth without
first being informed of the dangers of their


very Sagittarian ways, only after hot pursuit of
unwitting lovers, chasing morning through the wood until
moonlight spills into sunset’s hole, after shooting through
to the core, down into the root, of
those fainting unfortunates they fawn over that their


hunger consumes raw, only after unloading themselves of
what thirst melts through armour and every advance’s
reproof, do they steady their hooves and stop
to doubt the allegory of myth, drooping heads
wilting from having bloomed too soon, ominous gardeners


confronting the fertile truth with which they have
to live, every time they come someone dies,
but this is another kind of death—for
him, though, it is different, a man of
many charms and talismans whose penchant for persuasion


precedes him, a talented magician deeply entrenched in
the wisdom of previous ages, versed in the
ancient sayings of Solomon, Abramelin, and Saint Cyprian,
the embodiment of sages who came before him
carving away with innovation wailing walls of prevailing


scepticism prevaricating on the human condition, this tradition
which is his inheritance, what astrologers call the
wealth of Scorpio, is what drives him to
defy all expectations, its spirit guiding him when
he says nothing and still gathers a following,


my saviour who nailed it when he said,
‘If we think about it, gravity is magic,
action-at-a-distance and all that, this is the eighth
liberal art: metaphysics is beyond your experience, yet
its precepts bend to our suggestion, music is


the sound of numbers, song is audible order
we construct with chords to give form to
the harmony of the Universe…’ so swore this
liar who strung me along, soothing as a
psalmist and cunning as David as he played


me with promises I ate from his palms,
suave and sophisticated, hung like a Masonic apron
that could barely contain him (and what balls!),
to know, to will, to dare, and to
keep silent after our fall (oh, the dissonance


of it all!), whose glance, with its taciturn
understanding of necromantic arts, returns an apostle’s letters
unopened, who only liked me as an anomaly
(of that I am certain), and yet whose
promises, even now, keep me from being broken.

1Lord Byron, “[To Augusta Leigh]”, a letter written from Venice on September 21st, 1818 in “The Letters and Journals: [Chapter] 8. Don Juan and Teresa Guiccioli: July 1818–December 1819” of Byron’s Letters and Journals: A New Selection: From Leslie A. Marchand’s twelve-volume edition: Edited by Richard Lansdown, published at New York by Oxford University Press in 2015; page 302.